Fear of doctors and medical procedures, Most of us are apprehensive about medical procedures. It’s natural to feel concerned about your health, whether it’s over the results of a test or the prospect of seeing blood during a blood draw.
However, for some people, this dread might become extreme, causing them to shun medical procedures like surgery. When this happens, their doctor may recommend that they be tested for a phobia known as tomophobia.
Fear of doctors and medical procedures
The fear of surgical operations or medical intervention is known as tomophobia.
While it’s common to be nervous before a surgical operation, therapist Samantha Chaikin, MA, believes tomophobia entails more than the “average” level of worry.
This fear is extremely hazardous since it causes people to avoid medically required procedures. Tomophobia is classified as a specific phobia, meaning it is a fear of a certain scenario or object. A medical technique in this case.
While tomophobia isn’t widespread, certain phobias in general are. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 12.5 percent of Americans will have a specific phobia at some point in their lives.
According to Dr. Lea Lis, an adult and child psychiatrist, this illogical dread must interfere with daily living to be termed a phobia, which is a sort of anxiety disorder. Phobias interfere with personal relationships, job, and education, as well as your ability to enjoy life. Tomophobia refers to the fear of having to undergo required medical treatments.
The fact that the dread is out of proportion or more extreme than what would be reasonably expected given the situation is what makes phobias debilitating. An individual will avoid the triggering activity, person, or object at any costs in order to prevent worry and distress. Phobias can interrupt daily routines, damage relationships, hinder work performance, and lower self-esteem, regardless of the type.
What are the causes of tomophobia?
Tomophobia’s actual cause is unknown. Experts do, however, have theories on what causes a person to acquire a dread of medical procedures.
Tomophobia might arise after a stressful occurrence, according to Chaikin. It might also arise as a result of observing others responding nervously to a medical procedure. Fear of doctors and medical procedures can occur in persons who have vasovagal syncope, according to Lis.
“Vasovagal syncope is when your body overreacts to triggers due to the autonomic nervous system’s excessive response mediated by the vagus nerve,” Lis explains. This can cause a dip in blood pressure or a high heart rate. You may pass out from fear or agony, which could result in trauma if you damage yourself.
You may develop a phobia of this happening again, and so a fear of medical treatments, as a result of this event. Iatrogenic trauma, according to Lis, is another possible explanation. “When someone has been wounded by a medical operation accidently in the past, they may acquire anxieties that the medical system would cause more harm than benefit,” she explains.
Someone who has had a needle injury that resulted in a skin infection and excruciating pain, for example, may have a dread of these treatments in the future.
What is the treatment for Fear of doctors and medical procedures?
It’s time to get treatment if tomophobia is harming your health and driving you to refuse vital medical procedures. Lis thinks psychotherapy is the treatment of choice after being diagnosed with a phobia, specifically tomophobia.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which involves modifying thought processes, is one effective approach to treating phobias. A therapist will work with you to confront and improve erroneous or unhelpful thought patterns using CBT.
Exposure-based therapy is another prevalent treatment, according to Lis. Your therapist will utilise systematic desensitisation procedures that begin with visualisation of the frightened event in this form of treatment. This might lead to examining images of medical operations over time, and finally to watching a video of a surgical procedure together.
Finally, your doctor or psychologist may suggest further therapy options, such as drugs. If you have additional mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, this can assist. If you or someone you care about is suffering from tomophobia, help is available. Many therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists specialise in phobias, anxiety disorders, and relationship problems.
They can work with you to build an individualised treatment plan that may involve counselling, medication, or support groups.
Read also: Doctors with fear of blood